I started trying to learn this new “Total Immersion” freestyle swimming technique 5 days ago - based on something I came upon ramdomly one day
(and which I found via one of my favorite time-waster sites, popurls.com
). I did wind up getting the DVD
, which is probably necessary if the plan is learn to it on one’s own.
Well, in the 5 days since then, I’ve gone from floundering helplessly trying to do even the simplest drills, to being able to make it back and forth pretty cleanly and smoothly in the pool, and feeling a definite sense of amazement at how much easier the method is. I have no idea how long the pool at the gym is (it’s either 20 yards or 25 yards - even the people working there don't seem to know), but it used to take me 25+ strokes to get across each time; now I can do it in 16-18.
I’m finally getting the timing and the movements down, and I absolutely feel like I’m just slicing through the water - not fighting against it.
The big difference is that, in the ordinary method of freestyle (which I was doing before), the concept is to reach as far in front as possible, grab the water with your hand and arm, and push it back behind you so that you have leverage to move forward.
In doing so, though, you have to partly push the water downward with your hands, and also kick continuously, so that your body doesn’t sink down. So a lot of energy is spent just keeping yourself afloat, and this energy is wasted because it isn’t being spent moving you forward.
In the TI method, you are not trying to grab water and push it behind you. Instead, you are using your core muscles to drive forward INTO the water with your hands and arms ... you’re basically floating on top of the water and sort of “corkscrewing” into the water ahead of you.
You barely have to kick at all - in fact you can kick just once for each stroke. So if it takes you 16 strokes to get across the pool, you only need to kick your left leg 8 times and your right leg 8 times.
Watch this video, especially the part starting at 0:50 - notice how little he kicks and how relaxed he looks.
All that energy you would have wasted kicking can be used instead to drive forward into the water - and you just feel like you’re zipping right through. It’s an amazing feeling.
Contrast that to regular freestyle swimming, where you kick 3-5 times for each stroke, most of which is ultimately to prevent you from sinking, not moving forward.
I still have a long way to go I think - I’m still having trouble at the point where I roll to take a breath, and I’m still trying to integrate turns. Plus I’m still not completely accustomed to the rhythm. But I’m totally excited about it and did I mention I absolutely love the feeling of slicing through the water?!!